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Fitness & Health

25th Jun 2015

10 Strength Commandments from Powerlifting God Jim Wendler

Follow these rules and you will be strong my son...

Ben Kenyon

So you want to get stronger? You should probably read this…

If anyone knows how to build strength it’s legendary powerlifter Jim Wendler.

He wrote the book. Literally. Big Jim redefined strength training with his revolutionary 5/3/1 programme that is used by beginners and pros alike.

Oh and did we mention he’s f*cking strong?


So when JOE heard Mr Wendler speaking we dropped everything, cleared the diary, cut off the phone and poured a stiff drink.

We picked out some gleaming golden nuggets from this 1,000 lbs-squatting God of strength to help you lift bigger down the gym. You’re welcome…


The Masterplan

Want to get stronger? Step 1 – get a plan. Step 2 – stick to the f*cking plan. Step 3 – Win.

It sounds simple. And it is. Jim says people are too quick to change plans after half a cycle, add loads of mad extras or even skip a leg day or two. Don’t do it. Just stay the course and you will see results.



Nobody gets big and strong skipping leg day. That’s just a cold hard fact. The squat is probably the most important movement you will do in the gym. It should be a cornerstone of your training.

Jim says squat heavy at least once a week over the course of a decade and all your strength dreams will come true.


Get competitive

Competition is basic human nature – so get Darwinian on that sh*t whether down at the gym or on the football field. It will forge that competitive mentality to push you on.

Jim says you should compete at some sport. He says “I love wrestling because it takes guts to go out there and lose – you are going mono a mono and you can’t hide. Winning is great but losing teaches a whole lot more too.”

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Build up your volume

You won’t be a world champion powerlifter over night – so maybe don’t try training like one. Do you think Dmitry Klokov started out snatching 200kg or Rich Froning began training CrossFit four times a day? Nope.

The trend now is to squat every day like an Olympic lifter. Jim says that’s great if you can handle it – but most people should gradually build up to that volume over months and years. Not days.

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Don’t kill yourself

Train hard, but train smart. And listen to your body. You should be leaving the gym feeling like you’ve had a tough workout. You shouldn’t be leaving on a wheelchair, stretcher or slumped in the arms of your gym mate.

Jim quotes a chap called John Meadows: “Training is digging a hole and recovery is filling that hole back up.”

But most people keep on digging and digging and wonder why they burn out or injure themselves. Don’t do too much.


Recovery is key

Hitting the weights is obviously quite important if you want to get strong. But recovery if equally key. You’ll never get strong if you’re constantly on you’re a*se.

One thing that really affects your recovery, and therefore your gains, is stress.

Jim lists a high stress job, screaming kids and a nagging wife as things that might send your stress levels skyrocketing.

Try and minimise these stressors. Be creative.

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Easy on the conditioning

‘Those 1,000 burpees and 10-mile run you did on Facebook were really great’, said no-one, ever.

A big thing that Jim notices is how people go waaaaaaay overboard on the conditioning. You can train as smart as you want in the weights room. But then if you go out and do 100 sled pushes with 200kg, your squat ain’t going to be breaking any records.


Small gains add up to big gains

My mate Dave used to pick up any copper he found on the floor and say ‘100 pennies makes a £1’. He was laughed at, but he was right small gains add up to bigger things.

The same in powerlifting. If you could add 5kg to your deadlift or squat every single month over a 30-year career you would be the strongest man on earth.

Jim says think longer term – the key is consistently clocking up small gains which can soon add up to personal bests.


Strength over looks

My mum used to call it “fur coat, no knickers” – anything that looks good on the outside but leaves a lot to be desired underneath.

Some people train to look good, others train for performance. Jims says “It has been my experience that performance goals its something you can be so proud of but if you’re always chasing a ‘look’ you’re never going to get there.”

Go HAM | Clothing & Lifestyle Fitness Brand animated GIF


Eat s**t, train s**t

If you don’t know what healthy eating is, maybe give it a little google. Burgers and chips every day will get you nowhere. A wise man once told me your body is like a racing car, if you fill it with sh*t it won’t get you very far.

Jim echoes this. He has people come to him who have been eating fast food for 40 years and expect to get in shape in six weeks. It is not going to happen.

The best advice he gives is have the simple discipline to tell yourself ‘no’ when the doughnuts are being handed round the office. It will help you in the long-run.

burger animated GIF


Need a bit more inspiration? Here’s a Jim Wendler lifting heavy s**t…